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Fatal bomb blasts hit military bus in Damascus as Syria war continues

The bus was hit as it passed under Jisr al-Rais bridge

The bus was hit as it passed under Jisr al-Rais bridge

Syrian state media has reported that a fatal bomb blast on a military bus in central Damascus has killed 14 people.

Two IED attached to the vehicle exploded as it passed under Jisr al-Rais bridge in the morning rush hour, Sana news agency reported.

Despite the fact that Syria has been entangled in civil war for a decade, such attacks in the capital are to an increasing extent rare.

Immediately after the incident, army shellfire also reportedly killed at least 10 people in the opposition-held north-west.

The area is the last fortress of the rebel and jihadist groups that have been trying to topple President Bashar al-Assad since 2011.

The war has left at least 350,000 people dead, and led half the population to run away from their homes, in addition to almost six million refugees abroad.

Wednesday’s bombing attack in Damascus was reported the most fatal in the city since March 2017, when 31 people were killed in a suicide attack at the main court complex that was claimed by the jihadist group Islamic State (IS).

“I was sleeping when I heard a strong explosion. I woke up and saw a bus on fire, which came to a halt after hitting the sidewalk,”

Abu Ahmed, a fruit seller at a market near the bridge, told AFP news agency.

“I later heard the sound of a second explosion, but this one was not as strong as the first one.”

Video from the scene showed the burnt and blackened remains of the bus, with billowing smoke from its broken windows as fire fighters quenched the inferno.

Military engineers deactivated a third explosive device that had fallen from the vehicle Sana said

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Damascus police commander Maj Gen Hussein Jumaa called the attack a

“cowardly act”.

No group has yet claimed responsible, but suspicion will surely fall on IS, which has bombed military vehicles in the east of the country this year.

Among the 10 people killed in the town of Ariha, were four children and a woman in the north-western province of Idlib, according to the Syria Civil Defence, whose rescue workers are widely known as the White Helmets.

Another 20 people were injured, some of them critically, when shells struck residential areas and a busy market at a time when children were on their way to school, the organisation reported, blaming pro-government forces.

“We woke up to the bombardment. The children were terrified and were screaming,”

Bilal Trissi, a father-of-two who lives in Ariha, told AFP.

“We didn’t know what to do or where to go and we didn’t see anything because of all the dust around us.”

North-western Syria has seen occasional violence since a ceasefire negotiated in March 2020 by Turkey and Russia ended a government aggression.

Turkey, which supports the opposition, and Russia, a key ally of Mr Assad, have deployed troops to the region in an attempt to stop a major escalation.

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